This is the lot that befalls you, mothers, on earth. And do not be comforted, you should not be comforted, do not be comforted, but weep.
And there is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ten righteous men—that was said long ago. Go, then, and do not be afraid. Do not be upset with people, do not take offense at their wrongs. Forgive the dead man in your heart for all the harm he did you; be reconciled with him truly. If you are repentant, it means that you love. And if you love, you already belong to God.
Try to love your neighbors actively and tirelessly. The more you succeed in loving, the more you’ll be convinced of the existence of God and the immortality of your soul. And if you reach complete selflessness in the love of your neighbor, then undoubtedly you will believe, and no doubt will even be able to enter your soul. This has been tested. It is certain.
I heard exactly the same thing, a long time ago to be sure, from a doctor …He was then an old man, and unquestionably intelligent. He spoke just as frankly as you, humorously, but with a sorrowful humor. ‘I love mankind,’ he said, ‘but I am amazed at myself: the more I love mankind in general, the less I love people in particular, that is, individually, as separate persons.’
Above all, avoid lies, all lies, especially the lie to yourself. Keep watch on your own lie and examine it every hour, every minute.
I am sorry that I cannot say anything more comforting, for active love is a harsh and fearful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams thirsts for immediate action, quickly performed, and with everyone watching. Indeed, it will go as far as the giving even of one’s life, provided it does not take long but is soon over, as on stage, and everyone is looking on and praising. Whereas active love is labor and perseverance, and for some people, perhaps, a whole science.
Love God’s people. For we are not holier than those in the world because we have come here and shut ourselves within these walls, but, on the contrary, anyone who comes here, by the very fact that he has come, already knows himself to be worse than all those who are in the world, worse than all on earth . Again I say, do not be proud. Do not be proud before the lowly, do not be proud before the great either. And do not hate those who reject you, disgrace you, revile you, and slander you.
Do not hate atheists, teachers of evil, materialists, not even those among them who are wicked, nor those who are good, for many of them are good, especially in our time.
You see, you must go. Do not be sad. I assure you I will not die without saying my last word on earth in your presence. I will say this word to you, my son, to you I will bequeath it. To you, my dear son, because you love me. But for now, go to those you have promised to see.
I bowed yesterday to his great future suffering.
Only now do I say: his face has been, as it were, a reminder and a prophecy to for me.
“Mama, do not weep, life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we do not want to know it, and if we did want to know it, tomorrow there would be paradise the world over.”
“And I shall also tell you, dear mother, that each of us is guilty in everything before everyone, and I most of all.” At that mother even smiled, she wept and smiled: “How can it be,” she said, “that you are the most guilty before everyone? There are murderers and robbers, and how have you managed to sin so that you should accuse yourself most of all?” “Dear mother, heart of my heart,” he said (he had then begun saying such unexpected, endearing words), “heart of my heart, my joyful one, you must know that verily each of us is guilty before everyone, for everyone and everything. I do not know how to explain it to you, but I feel it so strongly that it pains me. And how could we have lived before, getting angry, and not knowing anything?”
“Why count the days, when even one day is enough for a man to know all happiness. My dears, why do we quarrel, boast before each other, remember each other’s offenses? Let us go to the garden, let us walk and play and love and praise and kiss each other, and bless our life.”
None of us could understand it then, but he was weeping with joy: “Yes,” he said, “there was so much of God’s glory around me: birds, trees, meadows, sky, and I alone lived in shame, I alone dishonored everything, and did not notice the beauty and glory of it at all.”
I cannot read this most holy story without tears. And so much in it is great, mysterious, inconceivable!
Only a little, a tiny seed is needed: let him cast it into the soul of a simple man, and it will not die, it will live in his soul all his life, hiding there amidst the darkness, amid the stench of his sins, as a bright point, as a great reminder.
“Yes, am I worthy?” suddenly leaped into my mind. Indeed, how did I deserve that another man, just like me, the image and likeness of God, should serve me? This question pierced my mind for the first time in my life… Indeed, I am perhaps the most guilty of all, and the worst of all men in the world as well.
And every day, down to this day, I have remembered the long-suffering servant of God, Mikhail, in my prayers.